How Should My Dependent Teenager Fill Out the W-4 Form?

Working teens must pay taxes just like adults.
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When your dependent teenager gets a job, her wages are subject to taxes just like yours are. A teenager must fill out and submit a W-4 form so her employer has the necessary information to properly calculate payroll tax deductions. Since your teenager is your dependent, she doesn't get a personal exemption. This affects how she fills out her W-4 form.


The W-4 Worksheet

Start by completing the worksheet that comes with the W-4. Your dependent should write a zero on line A. He enters 1 on line B unless he expects to earn more than $1,500 from a second job. Leave lines C to G blank. Enter the total on line H. This will be 1 or zero.

Completing the W-4

On the W-4 form, a teenager enters her name, address and Social Security number in boxes 1 to 3. Check single in box 4. Enter the number of withholding exemptions from line H of the worksheet in box 5 unless you claim exemption from income tax withholding. If you are claiming exemption, leave boxes 5 and 6 blank. Box 6 is optional and is used to ask employers to take out an extra dollar amount. A teenager might want to use box 6 if she receives taxable non-wage income such as investment dividends or interest.


Claiming Exemption

Teenagers typically work part-time or summer jobs, so they may not make enough to owe any federal income tax and might qualify to claim exemption from income tax withholding. To be eligible, a person must have had no tax liability the previous year and doesn't expect to have any this year. Dependents must meet an additional Internal Revenue Service test that limits eligibility to those who have total income under a specific dollar figure. For example, in 2015 the limit was $1,050 with no more than $350 in unearned income. If a dependent teenager qualifies, he can claim exemption by writing "Exempt" in box 7.


Updating W-4 Forms

A dependent teenager may need to submit an updated W-4 form from time to time. This is the case if she qualifies as exempt from income tax withholding. Exemption expires in February of the year following the current year and a new W-4 must be completed to renew exempt status. She might need to change her W-4 if she ends up making too much to qualify for exemption or turns 19 and no longer qualifies as a dependent.